Monahans Kids Zone appeals for community support to construct new facility
Monahans Kids Zone (MKZ) is seeking community support in completing a $15 million building capital campaign, according to the campaign’s co-chairs, Bryan Heflin and Teresa Burnett, respectively president and vice president of the Ward County Greater Works Board of Directors (Burnett also serves as executive director of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce).
MKZ, which is a nonprofit and dba of Ward County Greater Works, provides afterschool and part-time summer care to students from low-income homes who are in first through sixth grades. Donated funds will help the organization build a brand new, 18,000 sq. ft. multi-use activity center so it can enhance and expand its afterschool programming to serve students through 12th grade and 250-300 kids annually. In addition, the new space will enable them to increase community access and engagement.
The new facility will offer various gathering spaces and activity areas, including a snack bar, kitchen, hang-out area, indoor gym, half court, outdoor playfield and an arts area. An educational wing will have spots for one-on-one assistance, as well as the Lobo Learning Center—where mentoring, reading and tutoring will be offered, along with a computer lab.
The center is inspired by the Boys and Girls Club of West Odessa’s Headlee Unit and will have interactive software that tracks students and their reading ability. In turn, MKZ will be able to collaborate with the school to support the academic growth of students who are testing below their grade level.
Currently, Monahans Kids Zone is at 201 S. Alice Ave. in Monahans; the new facility is set to be built at 2001 E. 8th Street in Monahans—an opportune location. It’s going up in the Monahans East Parkway development area—not only nearby the new event center—but also across the street from a soon-to-be-completed elementary school (3-6th grades) and nearby a $3.5 million county park that will be finished by fall 2023.
According to Heflin and Burnett, the nearby park will include a splash pad, outdoor basketball courts, an 18-hole putting green, sand volleyball court and grass knoll for outdoor movies/events, to name a few features that the kids will enjoy. MKZ’s new facility will also offer easier access for the younger kids and be close to an outdoor GM Activity Workout Station for use with an app.
MKZ’s tentative timeline on building the new facility is to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year and move in at the end of 2024, per Heflin. The Monahans Economic Development Corp. donated land for the new facility, while Ward County will provide the “dirt work” and Parkhill will offer architectural and engineering services.
To date, MKZ has raised $3.6 million toward its building capital goals, with $11 in pending requests, said Burnett. She said they’re “in communications with other foundations” and a number of fundraisers have been held in their honor—including by Hogg Ranch; the Atlas Energy Golf Tournament; and the West Texas BBQ Bash—which helped support the cause.
Heflin said that in Monahans, there is “at least a 60 percent poverty rate in our school system” and “50 percent of our students are considered at-risk by the Texas Education Agency…So we have a lot of needs in our community.” He said that they want to build this facility to make sure that every student in Monahans has the opportunity to become a successful and contributing member of society as they grow up.